Thursday, 26 November 2015

Support the breastfeeding drop-ins! Nearly 80 women have already written last year

Photo of Maria Miller MP visiting Brookvale to talk to mums, taken by Lucy Crick Photography


Have you used the following drop-ins that Hampshire BFCs run or do you plan to in the future - your local service is at risk with grant funding ending in March 2016 - Chineham, Tadley, Overton, Whitchurch, Kingsclere, Andover (Spring Meadow). If you have used Brookvale this drop-in is half funded by grants and half funded by fundraising - so the service as it is, is also at risk. If you are an Eastleigh mum, the drop-ins there are also grant funded until March 2016 (by grants from the Borough Council with the service delivered by our colleagues) with no secure prospect after this time.


Please read on for the key email addresses. Letter writing earlier this year got Maria Miller MP involved and allowed us some extension to funding but despite meetings with colleagues at HCC to discuss support no commitment has been forthcoming to the model of breastfeeding support with a qualified breastfeeding counsellor. Please address your email to:

· Patricia Stallard (the Executive Member for Public Health at Hampshire County Council) and

· Dr Sallie Bacon (who is leading a project looking at the model of breastfeeding support across Hampshire). Please cc your email to: · Nicky Adamson-Young who is responsible for Health Visiting across Hampshire and · Your MP (for example Maria Miller (Basingstoke), Kit Malthouse (Kingsclere, Overton and Whitchurch), Ranil Jayawardena (Tadley) or Mims Davies (Eastleigh). If you cc your MP they will need your address and postcode as they can only reply to their constituents.

· Please cc Fiona Robertson, one of our breastfeeding counsellors, so that we can keep a record of your support. All the email addresses you need are further down this post for your convenience.

What to say The key relevant information you might include is
•How was the support you received from a breastfeeding counsellor at one of our drop-ins DIFFERENT from that provided by midwives and health visitors (and therefore why is it needed as well)?

•Some of those responsible for decision making, and who hold the purse strings, say that they are already funding breastfeeding support (which indeed they are through Maternity and Health Visiting) and they wonder what the gap will be in provision should the breastfeeding drop-ins cease to exist. What do you think?

•There are many savings if mums are supported to breastfeed. Have you experienced PND, hospital readmission for poor weight gain when breastfeeding went badly, GP visits, paediatric visits.... tell them about your personal experience.

•It is often suggested that breastfeeding counsellors "just" support emotionally well, middle class, British born mums who can get to our drop-ins. We know we support all mums who need support feeding their babies... Were you born overseas? What particular challenges do you face? Did you experience anxiety and depression postnatally? Are you a young mum or a single parent? Did you have a difficult breastfeeding experience first time and then successfully feed the second time? Let those who make decisions on spending know why they need to support the service.

•Which of the following drop-ins did you visit for support? Brookvale (Basingstoke), Chineham, Tadley, Whitchurch, Overton, Kingsclere or Andover. Or have you accessed support in Eastleigh that is funded through the Borough Council, using the same model we use?

•Include your address and postcode when emailing your M.P. as they need to know you are one of their constituents in order to act on your behalf You don’t have to write a lot. Some of the effective emails written previously were just a couple of paragraphs. If you can, please explain how and why it was that qualified breastfeeding counsellors made the difference for you.

If you wrote before please write again, these are different key people.

Email addresses are below for Patricia Stallard, Sallie Bacon, Nicky Adamson-Young and local MPs (do check who YOUR MP is – they can only respond to their own constituents) and please copy me, Fiona Robertson, breastfeeding counsellor. To:; Cc:; Also CC your MP:; OR OR OR (remember MPs need your full address in order to act on your behalf)

Background - Why are we asking for your support? Earlier this year the second grant we had received for the drop-ins in Basingstoke, Andover and the rural areas came to an end. Nearly 80 women who had had support from us wrote emails to people who we thought might be influential in ensuring there was ongoing funding made available. These letters and lobbying by mothers (including the involvement of local councillors and MP) were effective in getting Hampshire County Council to provide some interim budget for the drop-ins until the end of March 2016. The public health team at Hampshire County Council have since been working on looking at how breastfeeding is supported across the county and plan to develop a model of support which can be put in place from April 2016. My colleague, Mindy Noble, and I have been attending meetings with that team to try to ensure that the voice of mothers like you is heard and also to put forward the case that the support provided by qualified breastfeeding counsellors in community drop-ins like the one you have visited are an essential part of breastfeeding support alongside the usual provision from midwives and health visitors. There had been some suggestion (though no firm statement) that the specification for commissioning Health Visiting could be changed so that the service included specialist qualified breastfeeding counsellors. At our most recent meeting this seemed to have been a misunderstanding on our part, and the lead of the project Dr Sallie Bacon confirmed that they were looking at a possible "reconfiguration" of the midwifery and health visiting support rather than any more significant changes which might have made it possible to have ongoing funding for breastfeeding support provided by qualified breastfeeding counsellors. In addition, the two year grant that is funding Eastleigh drop-ins ends in March 2016, so Eastleigh breastfeeding drop-ins are now also at risk with no secure future from that date so these mums also need to join you in writing. This means, again, it is looking likely that our local drop-ins will close. So… we are asking for your support please. Thanks!

Best wishes and many thanks

Fiona Robertson, Breastfeeding Counsellor (on behalf of all of the whole team of Breastfeeding Counsellors who provide support at these drop-ins).

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